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Polaris Pool Cleaner How-to and Troubleshooting Guide

Polaris Pool Cleaner How-to and Troubleshooting Guide

While spending time in the pool is always fun, cleaning the pool afterwards is not so fun. And in the hot summer months, it is essential to clean the pool regularly to remove debris and prevent algae growth. The pool cleaner takes the hard work out of pool cleaning making it almost hassle free.

Polaris pool cleaners clean pool surfaces automatically, picking up leaves, dirt and other debris. The Polaris pool cleaner has a hose that connects to your pool’s pump system. It is powered using the pressure of pool water circulating through the plumbing lines and filter.

However, every once in a while you may experience minor technical difficulties when using your pool cleaner. Keep reading to learn how to use it properly and to troubleshoot any issues you may encounter.

How long do Polaris pool cleaners last?

With proper maintenance, your Polaris pool cleaner should last for up to 5 years without trouble. Some models even work for 8 years without any replacement parts. However, to have it last this long, you need to clean and maintain it.

Why is my Polaris pool cleaner not working?

The pool cleaner needs a pressure of about 30 psi to operate. The booster pump should be on and the filter pump should also be running at the same time. If the pressure is too low, you need to adjust the pressure valve to increase pressure.

Why is my Polaris pool cleaner going in circles?

When the water is cold or cools off from a warm day, the plastic in the hose gets memory and curls slightly. To uncurl, or erase the memory, some firms recommend pouring hot water down the center and sides the length of the hose with the hose stretched straight on your pool deck.

Additionally, the pool cleaner can go in circles if it has worn out wearable parts. Such as wings, shoes, pods, seal plates, etc. If one of the wheels of the pool cleaner stops, this could cause the pool cleaner to spin in circles.

Lastly, the pool cleaner may be going in circles if the randomizer ball is not coming free from the steering port. Being stuck means there is too much leakage into the steering section when the flow should be minimum.

Why is my Polaris pool cleaner not sinking?

If your pool cleaner is floating at the top of the pool instead of sinking to the bottom of the pool, it may have a leaky hose, improperly positioned thrust jet, or damaged backup valves.

Leaky Hose

Leaks in the Polaris hose will cause the pool cleaner to lose pressure, causing it to float above the pool bottom. To check for leaks, turn the pool cleaner on and pull the hose out of the water. Then inspect it for bubbles or trickles one section at a time. Bubbles or trickles are a sign of a hole in the hose.

Replace the hose and see if the issue will get resolved.

Note: It is normal for a small amount of water to trickle from the connection points between those sections. Slight leakage at these connection points is not a cause for alarm.

Broken Backup Valve

the backup valve is located on the front of your Polaris pool cleaner. It is a plastic, acorn-shaped piece. It shoots a jet of pressurized water out of the unit intermittently. When this valve malfunctions, it shoots water constantly. This pressure creates an ongoing thrust that can lift the pool cleaner up to the top of the pool.

To check the valve, turn on your pool cleaner and then lift it out of the water. If a constant jet of water shoots out of the backup valve, you’ll need to replace the valve. Or hire a certified Polaris repairman to replace it.

Poorly Positioned Thrust Jet

The jet nozzle is located on the back of your Polaris pool cleaner.  It emits a small but continuous stream of water to propel your cleaner across the bottom of the pool. The jet nozzle is adjustable. And if turned in the wrong direction, excess water pressure can flip your cleaner over or lift it off of the pool floor.

To remedy these issues, turn off the pool pump and lift the pool cleaner out of the pool. Inspect the nozzle and make sure that it is positioned between the five o’clock and the seven o’clock position.

Why does my Polaris stay in the deep end?

This could be as a result of thrust jet position or low water pressure. The thrust jet needs to be adjusted to increase the amount of water being produced in order to propel the pool cleaner into the shallow end.

If this does not work, adjust the water pressure to allow the pool cleaner to float upwards so it can move towards the shallow end. You can also move it manually and adjust the pool pumps manually once the pool cleaner is in position.

Why is my Polaris pool cleaner not moving?

If your pool cleaner is not moving around on the pool floor, follow the steps below to troubleshoot the cause fix it accordingly.

Check the cleaner hose

The hose should be firmly attached to the suction line in the skimmer or the cleaner line. If they are all connected, ensure there are no air leaks in the hose. Then check to see if you need to close or restrict other suction lines to increase the power to your pool cleaner. This will help it to move around. Lastly, check to see if the hose is clogged and unclog it.

Check the booster pump

Ensure the booster pump is on and the filter pump is also running. The pool cleaner should have a minimum pressure of 30 psi to operate efficiently.  Then inspect the wall fitting connection and the feed hose for clogs. Rocks or sand can get stuck at these points and prevent the pool cleaner from moving.

Check the pump’s power supply

Ensure your pool pump has a power supply. Check to see if it is plugged in properly or if there is a problem with the power supply. Ensure the indicator light on the pool pump control is on. Then inspect the power cord for any rips or tears in the cord as this may cause a short circuit.

If the pool pump is still not powered, the issue could be due to an internal problem. The main culprit, in this case, would be the drive motor. You will need to disassemble your pool pump to get to the drive motor. Then use a multimeter to check for continuity.

If power is not reaching the drive motor or the motor isn’t responding, this could be a sign that you need a new drive motor for your pool cleaner. All ensure that the wire connections to the drive motor are tight.

Clogged or Broken Quick Disconnect

Your Polaris pool cleaner’s hose is attached to the return jet with a small piece called a quick disconnect. Inside this piece, there’s a screen to catch debris coming from your filter so that it doesn’t enter the pool cleaner. If that screen becomes clogged, your pool cleaner will protest by freezing in place.

Check the screen to make sure it’s clean and free of any sand or debris. If it’s clogged, detach it from the hose and return jet, and rinse it to dislodge and dispose of the debris.

While you have it detached, also check to see whether the quick disconnect is broken. If it is, it’ll leak water and prevent the pool cleaner from getting the right amount of pressure, which will stall it. If it is broken, you’ll need to replace it.

Leaky Back-Up Valve

A large, white device located on the Polaris hose, the backup valve fires high-pressure bursts of water through its nozzle, which moves the cleaner, enabling it to clean the pool. If it’s leaky, or you notice it constantly spraying water, it needs to be replaced.

Broken Belts

Just like an indoor vacuum cleaner, a Polaris pool cleaner relies on drive belts that allow the wheels to turn. If a belt breaks, guess what? Yup. The cleaner comes to a screeching halt. Well, maybe not screeching. It is underwater, after all.

Anyway, if the backup valve is working, and the tail is waving back and forth, but the wheels aren’t turning, sounds like a broken belt. Luckily, this is one of the easier Polaris pool cleaner troubleshooting methods.

Simply lift the cleaner from the bottom of the pool, and check to see whether all the wheels turn. If they don’t, open up the cleaner, and locate the belts to see whether they’re damaged. You may have a little trouble finding them if they have indeed snapped. There’s no repair to be made here. You’ll just need to pick up a new set of belts.

Disconnected Internal Tubing

A Polaris cleaner has water tubes inside that direct pressure throughout the cleaning unit. They can sometimes become disconnected, which reduces the internal pressure, which makes the cleaner stop moving.

Open up the cleaner and make sure all the internal tubing is connected the way it’s supposed to be. You’ll be able to tell if it’s not. The fix should be as easy as simply reattaching them, but if they won’t stay on their own, you may need to use hose clamps to keep them in place.

Note: You should also inspect the power trains to see if they are damaged. this can also cause the pool cleaner to stop working. if you are still not able to figure out why your pool cleaner is not working, contact the Polaris contact center or hire a certified Polaris pool cleaner specialist to repair your pool cleaner.

How to prevent Polaris pool cleaner from getting stuck in a corner

The Polaris pool cleaner is designed to move about the pool bottom trapping debris and dirt in the pool water. Every now and then it may get stuck at one corner due to excessive suction. Follow these steps to prevent your pool cleaner from getting marooned in one corner;

Flow Adjustment

The first step in preventing the cleaner from getting stuck is flow adjustment. This entails adjusting the suction by controlling the water flowing through it.  The stronger the water flow, the more likely it is for the pool cleaner to get stuck in one place. 

Some suction is necessary for the pool cleaner to work. You can use a flow keeper valve to regulate the flow of water going through the pool cleaner. The flow keeper valve has a spring-loaded valve that can be set to open and close.

This enables it to suck in water at the valve sparingly, thus reducing the amount of water being sucked in through the cleaner.  This in turn reduces the amount of suction at the cleaner head and prevents it from getting stuck.

How to install a flow keeper valve;

  • You will need to use an additional piece of hose to attach it. As the valve cannot attach directly to the skimmer on the side of the pool.
  • The short hose attaches to the skimmer port. 
  • Then attach the flow keeper valve to it and the longer hose to the other end of the flow keeper valve. 
  • The other end of the long hose should be attached to the pool cleaner.

Main Drain

The main drain at the bottom of an in-ground pool is another reason why pool cleaners get stuck. This is because it has suction pulling water through it which can cause the pool cleaner to get stuck. To remedy this issue, turn off the main drain while your automatic cleaner is working.

You can also adjust the main drain pressure at the pool pump control panel.  The main drain usually has a lever on the pipe allowing you to close it entirely, or partially close it; which will reduce the suction. You can adjust the main drain suction to enable it to continue working while the pool cleaner is working.

How do you adjust the thrust on a Polaris pool cleaner?

Polaris pool cleaners are designed to propel themselves by using the water pressure from the pool’s filtration pump system. the pool cleaner is attached to the pool’s pump system using a hose. The water moves through the Polaris’ inner body and is then expelled out through a thrust jet nozzle located at the back of the vacuum’s body.

Adjusting the thrust jet determines the way the Polaris pool cleaner will move along the bottom of the pool. The thrust adjustment is also necessary if the pool cleaner is not moving as it should.

For instance, if the pool cleaner fails to climb out of the deep end into the shallow end of the pool, the thrust jet can be adjusted to give it more lift. Or, if the pool cleaner tries to climb the sides of the pool, the thrust can be adjusted to keep it on the bottom.

Steps to adjust the thrust;

  • Remove the unit from the water.
  • Shut off the pool pump system and lift the Polaris vacuum unit out of the water. (lift the pool cleaner by its hose)
  • Set the cleaner down and examine the back section of the Polaris. (the section with the hose sweep or “tail.”)
  • Moving the jet nozzle on a Polaris pool cleaner affects how it moves in the pool.
  • Examine and adjust the thrust jet: Find the thrust jet nozzle at the back of the vacuum unit.
  • Move the nozzle to point at the seven o’clock position.

Note: This position is the recommended setting for the pool cleaner. It causes the pool cleaner to move to the left slowly along the bottom of the pool. And helps the unit to stay firmly planted on the bottom of the pool.

  • Adjusting the jet further customizes the way the Polaris moves in the water:
    • Pointing the jet higher causes the Polaris to climb easier.
    • Pointing the jet lower increases how firmly the Polaris hugs the bottom.
    • Moving the jet left moves the Polaris left.
    • Moving the jet right moves the Polaris to the right.
  • Lower the Polaris by the hose back into the pool.
  • Turn on the pool pump system and observe how the Polaris moves along the bottom of the pool.
  • Readjust the jet and retest until the desired movement is reached.

Polaris pool cleaner doing wheelies

Below are some reasons why your pool cleaner is doing wheelies;

The pool water level is too high

When the pool water level is too high, the water line will be close to the coping. Which will cause the pool cleaner to and flips onto its back when it starts to climb the wall and hit the coping.

Too much air in the pool cleaner

Most people forget to remove all of the air from the pool cleaner before using it. This causes it to hover an inch above the floor. To remove the air, hold the unit underwater and shake it left to right, up and down. You should see air bubbles coming to the pool surface. Then watch it to ensure it touches the pool floor.

Note:  A slow or weak pump motor will also cause the pool cleaner to do wheelies as it gets swirled around the pool’s water movement. The solution, in this case, is to replace the motor.

Polaris pool cleaner tail not moving

Check to see if the booster pump has enough pressure to propel the pool cleaner tail. You should also check to see if it has any broken or damaged parts that need replacement.

Polaris pool cleaner not backing up

If the pool cleaner is not backing up, the backup valve is not working properly. It helps the pool cleaner back up when it is stuck in a corner or blocked by objects in the pool. The backup valve fires a burst of high-pressure water from its nozzle that propels the pool cleaner backward.


  1. Clean the backup valve to remove debris by either flushing it with water or using a brush to remove any gunk stuck in the valve. Use a soft brush or a toothbrush.
  2. Examine the backup valve for small cracks or other indications of a leak. And replace the backup valve parts that are damaged or broken. You should also replace complimentary parts such as the case or the nozzle.
  3. Ensure the backup valve is attached properly. Do not overtighten it when reassembling it as this can cause it to crack under the water pressure.
  4. Also examine the hose connecting the valve to check for cracks. As this will also prevent the valve form having enough pressure to back up the pool cleaner.
  5. Lastly, make sure the If a backup valve is facing the right direction, to enable it to move the pool cleaner away from the corners.

Polaris pool cleaner not picking up debris

Check to see if the skimmer filter is dirty. Then pull out the filter basket and check for debris that may be interfering with water flow to the pool pump that provides the pressure necessary to suction debris.

How to keep your pool cleaner hose tangles-free

A tangled cleaner will not only not clean the pool insufficiently, but it will also have minimal pressure that will prevent it from cleaning the walls. Here are some tips to help keep your hose tangle-free.

Shorten the Hose Length

The hose should be long enough to allow the cleaner to move smoothly, but not too long. as this will make the hose have a difficult time swiveling along with the cleaner.

To figure out how long the hose should be and to resize it;

  • Attach the quick disconnect to the hose to the in the pool wall.
  • Grasp the other end of the hose
  • and reach to the point of the pool distant from the wall connection.
  • There should be sufficient hose to reach that point, minus or plus about six inches.
  • Cut any excess hose at lead hose segment. i.e the first portion of the hose that’s attached directly to the cleaner.
  • Note: remember to gauge the depth at the deepest aspect of your pool when estimating the correct length of hose, you need.
  • Then run the hose from the wall port to the distant point again. If it’s still too long, cut equal parts from the remaining hose sections.
  • Finally, reconnect the pool cleaner and let it clean.

Stretch Out the Hoses and Cables

Take time to detangle and stretch the hoses from time to time. Placing them out in the sun for several hours to soften the hose will make them more flexible while they are cleaning the pool. It will also make it easier to detangle them if they are tangled.

Check the Connectors

Inspect the swivel connectors that combine the hose sections as they enable the hose to move freely. Its small ball bearings in the connectors can’t move, the connectors will not rotate. This lack of movement will cause the hose to tangle.

Grease the ball bearings regularly using waterproof grease and replace them once they stop working properly.

Measure the Cleaner’s RPMs

The pool cleaner’s wheel rotations also cause the hose to tangle if they are too fast this is because they will cause the pool cleaner to lift off the pool floor causing the hose to tangle as it twirls or does wheelies.

To determine the RPMs;

  • Use a marker to draw a line on one tire.
  • Note the starting point.
  • Turn on the cleaner, and immerse it just below the pool surface.
  • Set timer for a minute.
  • Count one tire rotation each time your mark passes the initial point.
  • Then compare the RPMs you counted to the manual recommendation.
  • Ensure the total falls within that range of the manual.
  • Then adjust as needed, and redo the test until you get to a recommended RPMs.

Note: Examine the wheels for wear and tear. If they are damaged or worn down, substitute them before putting your cleaner back in the pool.

Check the Weather

Using your pool cleaner work when the weather is cooler will cause it to tangle. As the heat is essential for softening the hose allowing it to move around easily. When the weather is cold below 70°F/21°C, the hose will harden up which will raise the possibility of tangling.

If you have to run it in cold weather, put the hose out in the sun for a while before putting the cleaner in the pool. Monitor the cleaner as it works so you can untangle any clumps as soon as they occur.

Add More Hose Floats

To make the pool cleaner work properly, move it around to keep it from becoming tangled. The hose of your pool cleaner should float. If it gets pulled to the floor of the pool, it will end up in knots. To prevent this, use hose floats but not too many that the cleaner can’t even fall to the bottom anymore.

Note: If the hose is severely tangled to the point of being kinked, you have no option but to replace it. Make sure you buy the correct hose for your pool cleaner model to ensure it fits properly to reduce the chances of tangling. Additionally, stretching your new hose in the sun after you buy it will help it to tangle less as it will be more flexible.

Polaris pool cleaner not climbing walls

The pool cleaner may be failing to climb the pool walls for one of two reasons. Either the wheels are not rotating as they should or the water pressure is not enough to propel the pool cleaner. This could be as a result of a jet nozzle not being aimed correctly or a hose that isn’t long enough.


  • Adjust Nozzle Direction

Shut down water flow to the pool cleaner and take the device out of the pool. Then examine the small plastic jet nozzle on the back end of the pool cleaner. Adjust the direction of the nozzle to influence the overall direction of movement for the pool cleaner. The nozzle should be pointing to the 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock positions.

  • Adjust The Hose Length

Unscrew the nut connecting the hose to the pool cleaner body, and pull the hose free. Add more sections of the hose to the rest of the hose to extend the pool cleaner’s reach. Or remove sections of the hose to limit the area the pool cleaner covers.

  • Check Wheel Rotation Speed

A pool cleaner needs optimal wheel speed to cover the entire bottom of the pool and successfully climb the walls. For best efficiency, the pool cleaner needs to run between 28 and 32 rpm.

How to adjust wheel rotation:

Turn the pump on, then hold the cleaner below water level and count the wheel revolutions for one minute. If the count is less than 28 rpm, increase the speed.

To increase the speed;

  • Check the filter screen in the in-line filter for debris that restricts water flow.
  • Clean the skimmer, filter and pump basket, clearing any debris that restricts water flow.
  • Check the hoses, connections and swivels for leaks that may be lowering water pressure. Remove the blue restrictor disk from the UWF (universal wall fitting).
  • If an adjustable gate valve is installed on the booster pump or cleaner line, open it completely so water can flow freely to the Polaris.

To reduce the speed;

  • Replace the blue restrictor disk in the UWF with the red restrictor.
  • If the flow is still too high, unscrew the pressure relief valve until the proper rpm is reached.

Note: The pressure relief valve should only be adjusted when a restrictor is installed.

If an adjustable valve is installed after the booster pump, adjust it to reduce the water flow to the vacuum.

What is the difference between Polaris 360 and 280?

While both pool cleaners essentially do the same thing, the Polaris 360 is essentially the larger version of the two. That said they still have different features has its own pros and cons that may be beneficial depending on your pool cleaning needs.

The 280 has a slightly wider inlet great for picking up large, fallen leaves. while the 360 incorporates a belt drive mechanism which cut down on maintenance. Moving parts wear out faster and are more expensive to repair. Polaris 360 has three jet nozzles instead of two which makes it faster and better for more aggressive cleaning.

The 360 can also operate more readily without a booster pump, reducing the amount of money you have to pay for it up-front.

Polaris 360Booster pump-free operation Fast  Expensive  
Polaris 280Wider inlet, Fast cleaning, Cleans wallsRequires booster pump Expensive  

Should you leave Polaris in the pool throughout?

Leaving the pool cleaner on throughout has no negative effects, however, it is extremely unnecessary. Below are some reasons why it is counterproductive to leave your pool cleaner on throughout;

The lifespan of the pool cleaner will be shortened

Leaving the pool cleaner in the pool while you are swimming is not advisable. This is because the water stirs and creates a current that can buffer the cleaner making it harder to clean the pool.

The increased friction will lead to wear and tear causing the pool cleaner to get damaged faster. Additionally, shocking the pool while the pool cleaner is in the pool can lead to corrosion of the plastic. Not to mention UV damage due to over-exposure to sunlight.

The filter will get clogged and damage the pool cleaner

you should retrieve the pool cleaner regularly to clean out the filter compartment. A clogged filter makes it difficult for the water to pass through the machine as it should. It will also cause the debris to be caught in other areas such as the hose that can lead to leaks or other issues.

Polaris Pool Cleaner Maintenance

  • Check there is adequate suction to the cleaner from your equipment
  • Check the flow control valve to ensure it is correctly
  • Check the hose for poor connections and any air leaks
  • Check the diaphragm or hammer in your cleaner for splits or cracks
  • Check the water flow from all the returning inlets is directed correctly
  • Lay the hose straight in the sun to relax the coil memory
  • Ensure that you have the correct hose length and adjust the hose weight
  • Summary of Pressure Pool Cleaner Troubleshooting
  • Check the pump for adequate pressure
  • Check the wall strainer for blockages
  • Check the hose and swivels for tangles
  • Change the valve flow for more coverage of the pool
  • Replace waterlogged hose
  • Check the tires for wear and replace as required
  • Check the tracks and scrubbers and replace as required
  • Check the filter and empty it out

Why is my Polaris pool cleaner moving slow?

The tail sweep has to wear rings to protect the tail, and a heavy-duty tip, wrapped in the foam tail sponge. If the end of the tail wears off, or if the wear rings wear down and a hole develops in the tail sweep, this can release enough water to slow down the cleaner.

Then check the inline strainer at the wall for debris that could be slowing the water pressure to the cleaner. Ensure the hose has no kinks, holes, or joints that are reducing water pressure.

The leaf bag could be also full, holding the cleaner back from powering around the pool. Ensure the bag is emptied regularly. Also, check for loose drive belts and worn tires as they can cause your pool cleaner to move slowly.

Why does my Polaris pool cleaner go on its side?

If the head float develops a crack that allows water to fill the float, it gets heavy and the cleaner will run on its side. This is most likely caused when pool cleaners are left in the pool 24/7. When the water is cold or cools off from a warm day, the plastic in the hose gets memory and curls slightly.

Polaris pool cleaner doesn’t cover the whole pool

The Polaris pool cleaners has a setting that allows you to increase or decrease the flow to the cleaner, powering the movement of the cleaner around the pool. Refer to the user manual to find the location of the control button or knob.

To enable the pool cleaner run the entire pool floor, direct all pool returns towards the surface. This will allow the pool cleaner to easily pass under the moving water. This will help to prevent water flow from affecting the natural movement of the cleaner. If your pressure cleaner gets stuck on steps, adjust the flow at the rear of the cleaner.


Constant use of you pool cleaner will reduce its lifespan considerably. You should take it out of the water once it finishes a cleaning cycle, empty the filter, then rinse it before storing it.  Using the pool cleaner twice or thrice weekly should get the job done.

You should also strive to maintain it regularly to ensure it is working well at all times. This will also allow you to inspect it for damages and fix them before they are irreparable. Lastly, store it properly to reduce damage.